BLM announces winners of the 2022 Stewardship Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of exemplary rangeland management and outstanding accomplishments in restoring and maintaining the health of public rangelands, the Bureau of Land Management has announced the winners of the 2022 Rangeland Stewardship and Sagebrush-Steppe Stewardship awards.

The award ceremony will be held during the 2022 Public Lands Council Annual Meeting in Cody, Wyoming, and via Zoom at starting at 1 p.m. Mountain Time on Aug. 25, 2022. The BLM and Public Lands Council have partnered for 17 years to honor BLM livestock grazing permittees and lessees who demonstrate exceptional management, collaboration, and communication that restores, conserves, or enhances our public lands and recognize their accomplishments at a gathering of their peers.

“The BLM has worked for over 80 years with generations of American ranchers whose livestock graze public rangelands to provide food and fiber for the nation and who are the backbone of many rural communities,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “The exemplary stewardship demonstrated by these awardees create new benchmarks for locally led and locally designed conservation.”

“These awards recognize outstanding investments and the people who continue to demonstrate that livestock operations are critical to sustainability and resilience of Western landscapes, said Public Lands Council President Niels Hansen. “The Public Lands Council is proud to continue to work with the BLM to support the work these ranchers do to protect sage grouse habitat, encourage retention of native grass stands, and improve diverse wildlife habitat. Congratulations to these recipients for this well-deserved recognition of their work that supports food and fiber production while making western public lands healthier for us all.”

The Rangeland Stewardship Award recognizes demonstrated use of beneficial management practices to restore, protect, or enhance rangeland resources while working with the BLM and other partners, and the winner of the 2022 award is Charles Hibner of Cebolla, New Mexico, nominated by the Taos Field Office, BLM New Mexico.

Hibner is a retired soil conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and has been a BLM permittee since taking over his father’s operation in the 1970s. He grazes on four allotments through a holistic high-intensity, short-duration grazing rotation; has completed multiple vegetation projects to re-establish native grasses, control noxious weeds, and reduce soil erosion; and has constructed several water developments that also benefit the resident elk population. Hibner works with other user groups to resolve management challenges across the patchwork of private, state, and public lands in the Cebolla area.

“Charles Hibner's commitment to sustainable grazing practices and educational outreach on responsible land stewardship across public and private land ownerships makes him an invaluable partner for the agency,” said BLM Taos Field Manager Pamela Mathis. “His willingness to work with the BLM to implement projects and address issues related to areas with special designations and wildlife habitat management over the past few decades has been inspiring to land managers and the local community.”

The Sagebrush-Steppe Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding example of enhancement, restoration, or reclamation of sagebrush habitats, in addition to the accomplishments meriting the Rangeland Stewardship Award, and the 2022 winner is the Cedar Creek Grazing Association of Glendive, Montana, nominated by the Miles City Field Office, BLM Montana/Dakotas.

The Cedar Creek Grazing Association, established in 1967, has over 20 members. It is managed by a board and employs an experienced ranch manager focused on positive outcomes for the landscape and the ranchers in the association. The association’s allotment includes general habitat for sage grouse, five sharp-tailed grouse leks, and 7,500 acres of crucial mule deer winter range. The association sustains native plant and animal communities through grazing management practices that maintain or promote physical, ecological, and biological functions and conditions, including through its members voluntarily reducing their grazing use by over 30 percent for the last two years to reduce impacts during drought. The association regularly volunteers to spread flea beetles as a biological control for leafy spurge and spray private and public lands to help mitigate the spread of noxious weeds. With support from the Miles City Field Office, the association has planted native trees and shrubs along Cedar Creek to encourage bank stabilization, native species recruitment, improve water quality, and improve wildlife habitat.

“The Cedar Creek Grazing Association’s proactive and collaborative management has enabled improvements in rangeland conditions, even in severe drought,” said BLM Miles City Field Office Supervisory Range Management Specialist Reyer Rens. “The association's close communication with their on-the-ground manager and the BLM enables them to make real time adjustments to adapt to changing range conditions, and that approach is exemplary.”

The Public Lands Council represents the cattle and sheep producers who hold approximately 22,000 public lands grazing permits. Federal grazing permit holders provide essential food and fiber resources to the nation and are a partner with the BLM on the eradication of invasive species, mitigation of wildfire risk, and conservation of vital wildlife habitat. The Public Lands Council works in active partnership with the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local land management offices to make landscapes more resilient across the West.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

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Bureau of Land Management